Horacio Ferrer
| Oscar Del Priore

e was born in the Buenos Aires neighborhood of Almagro, on 1969 Loria Street. He was one of the greatest tango pianists notwithstanding epochs or tendencies. Owner of a profound, even sound, his personality was marked by an outstanding capacity for improvisation and good taste, either as a soloist or leading an aggregation. In his style, the magic and the sobriety of a danceable swing are blended with the musical finesse. He was an arranger with exquisite ideas and a composer of beautiful melodies.

His father José, also a musician, run a conservatory, was a bandleader and played several instruments. At age eight Osvaldo was already playing piano by ear in his father’s outfit. Besides piano, he learnt to play bandoneon and guitar. Later he continued a formal training: he studied harmony and counterpoint with maestro Bianchi.

His idols were two jazz men, Art Tatum and Teddy Wilson, and in tango, Orlando Goñi: «His left hand was a revolution.», some day he said.

In the 40s he played with the group Los Pregoneros de América, with Amílcar Neira, Castel and his father-in-law Augusto Vila (aka Tito), the one with the Gómez-Vila duo. Thereafter he played piano in the orchestras led by Pedro Maffia, Edgardo Donato and Argentino Galván. In 1953 he joined Héctor Varela and later he was in the ranks of Juan Canaro in the first Argentine embassy to Japan. He was there nine months. Later, with several of the players of that orchestra, he performed in the United States and subsequently he settled in Caracas and appeared in Venezuela and Colombia.

On his comeback he joined the ranks led by Roberto Caló. With that orchestra he released four of his compositions: “En Fa menor” and “Sacale chispa”, instrumentals, and with lyrics: “Este fiel corazón” and “Si yo pudiera olvidarla”. Thereafter he was summoned by Alfredo Gobbi with whom he started a close friendship.

In 1962 he formed Los Tres de Buenos Aires, with Ernesto Báez (guitar) and Juan Miguel Rodríguez Toto (bandoneon). Later he joined the Astor Piazzolla’s quintet and returned to the United States heading the orchestra that accompanied the singer Alberto Marino in 1968 and 1969. Furthermore, later in Buenos Aires, similarly, he led the aggregations that backed the vocalists Jorge Sobral and Alba Solís.

In 1972 he is again with Piazzolla, now with the Nonet, replacing Osvaldo Manzi. They made a long tour that began in Argentina, continued in Brazil and Venezuela and reached Paris and Rome. Two years later he joined the sextet led by Raúl Garello at El Viejo Almacén and, soon later, he was appointed musical director of the Cabal label.

He was a creator that can be placed within the Orlando Goñi’s rhythmical school of strong tango drive with elements of Horacio Salgán’s style. These were the grounds on which his style was rooted. His oeuvre, regretfully, has remained scattered and his recordings are not an example according to his talent. There is not enough material left in order to satisfy his admirers. In 1964 he was in my program A través del tango, on Radio Municipal, offering a series of almost improvised interpretations with the guitarist Aníbal Arias. They were later published in a record of which a small numbers of copies were released. In it “Del bajo fondo”, “Boedo”, “Gallo ciego”, “Un placer” and “Ciudad triste” were included.

When he put together Los Tres de Buenos Aires he had the chance to record for the Record label. Unfortunately another small budget release. There, along with Toto Rodríguez, the guitarist Héctor Rea, plus a double bass and percussion, he cut the following numbers: “Punzante”, “Del otro lado”, “Pa’ que bailen los muchachos”, “Clavel del aire”, “Del bajo fondo”, “Adiós Buenos Aires”, “Pichín bar”, “Orgullo criollo”, “Shusheta”, the milongas “La puñalada” and “Milonga de mis amores”, including as well the Ponce’s song “Estrellita” played as a tango.

There were also less interesting works recorded with a merely commercial purpose when, under the nom de plume Pierre Montand, he played well-known tangos in a European style for Cabal Records.

He also recorded for Disc Jockey, pairing with Osvaldo Berlingieri as a piano duo, well-known numbers with an anodyne treatment. The result was not interesting. Instead, in 1977 and for Cabal, he cut a long-playing record that on one of its sides he is accompanying the singer Néstor Fabián and on the other, there are six instrumentals: Piazzolla’s “Buenos Aires hora cero” and “Adiós Nonino”, de Piazzolla. And his compositions “Demoníaco”, “Atávico”, “Para Gracián” and “Calle rara”. Here we find a special mood, beautiful images that he achieved surrounded by the following musicians: Julio Ahumada (bandoneon), Tito Besprován and Eduardo Walczac (violins), Abraham Seleson (viola), José Bragato (cello), Kicho Díaz (double bass), Arturo Schneider (flute) and Juan José Sandri (electric guitar), and the violinist Fernando Suárez Paz playing on some tracks.

A long-playing record for the APP label with his own orchestra and several singers introducing new tango pieces was another release not much interesting. The vocalists were Raúl Fontana, Jorge Rolando, Juan Carlos Jordán, Lucho Rivero and Jorge Hidalgo.

In 1980 he recorded for the SUT label the curious disc Música para escuchar y bailar (Easy listening music for dancing) overdubbing his playing to sound as a piano duo.

Fortunately in 1972 he joined the Piazzolla’s Conjunto 9. It was one of the most important events of contemporary tango. In the record he played were included “Vardarito”, “Oda para un hippie” and “Onda nueve”, especially composed for his showcasing. That number has sections for his free improvisation.

Finally we have to mention, regarding his work in studio sessions, his playing in the Grupo Vanguardia led by Saúl Cosentino and some appearances along with Néstor Marconi in instrumentals and in other pieces accompanying Roberto Goyeneche. There are also cassettes with his recordings when he accompanied on piano Horacio Ferrer reciting his poems.

He did not commit to record all the things we would have liked but he wrote around two hundred compositions. He was a good friend whom we miss a lot.